Diane’s Vietnamese Fried Chicken

Diane's Vietnamese Fried Chicken Recipe on @whiteonrice

When my 5 younger siblings and I were growing up, we were addicted to American food in the craziest of ways. Mom and Dad always had their garden fresh soups, healthy fish and vegetable dishes. But we wanted to eat what the Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles ate, which was pizza and more pizza. We always felt so deprived when we couldn’t eat mutant ninja turtle-style. Another evening of fresh homemade dinner was like six kids being force-fed mashed greens (or insert your most terrifying food as a kid).

Second on our most favorite American-food dishes were hamburgers, and in third place was fried chicken. Oh, fried chicken. The kind that KFC served in the bucket or Popeye’s served when we were lucky enough to drive through for lunch on our way to visit Auntie in Reno, Nevada. Those fried chicken dinners were rare, but glorious to an always-hungry thirteen year old.

Though we couldn’t afford to eat out often, my parents tried their best to accommodate our American food cravings. They themselves loved fried chicken and especially coleslaw. There was just something so special about coleslaw for them. We didn’t care, as long as we could each have a drumstick (or three), Mom and Dad can order what ever they wanted.

So when Mom and Dad were hungry for fried chicken, they made it at home. Oh boy. American fried chicken made by Mom and Dad? I’m proud to say that it was delicious. Different, but delicious.

What made their fried chicken so different was that they had no idea how KFC got that crispy outside crust. They’ve never battered chicken with flour before, so in their kitchen experiments, they figured out that Colonel Sanders must have used some type of wet flour batter. After a few tries, they had their variation of a Vietnamese-style American fried chicken that was delicious and to die for.

Bless their hearts. They tried to please us American-food-hungry kids and ended up with a fabulous Vietnamese version of fried chicken.

Crispy and flavorful Vietnamese Fried Chicken Recipe on @whiteonrice

Mom and Dad’s marinade of fish sauce is what gives this fried chicken a kick-up savory flavor and over the years, I’ve added garlic and sometimes a few other simple spices. The flour crust itself is their concoction or “guess” as to what KFC and Popeye’s chicken used. My parents’ version of the chicken is dipped in a wet flour mixture and then fried to a beautiful crispy brown. Their Vietnamese fried chicken crust is light and crispy on the outside and super juicy and flavorful on the inside.

I’ve shared images of this Vietnamese fried chicken online many times and so many of you have asked for the recipe. Well, here it is and I can’t take credit for all of it. So when you make this and take a bite out of this amazing Vietnamese fried chicken, please think of Mom and Dad!



Diane's Vietnamese Fried Chicken Recipe

Yield: Serves 4

Total Time: 45 Minutes

The great flavor from this marinade comes from the fish sauce. If you're still new to fish sauce, don't be afraid of it. Use less if you want to, but don't replace it. The magical flavor is what makes this chicken so great. And the wet flour mixture gives a nice and fluffy outside crunch.


  • about 2-3 pounds chicken drumsticks or thighs, skin-on and bone-in

For the marinade:

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon (15g) Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) rice vinegar
  • 4-5 large cloves garlic, finely minced or crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For frying:

  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5) baking powder
  • about 2 cups (480ml) cold water
  • Oil for frying


  1. Make the marinade: In large bowl, combine the vegetable oil, fish sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, garlic and black pepper. Set aside.
  2. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Add the chicken to the marinade and gently toss the chicken in to get it coated evenly. Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour (2-3 hours preferred) so the chicken can soak up all the flavor. Gently stir up the chicken in the marinade at least twice during the 1-3 hours so that all the pieces of chicken get an even soak in the marinade.
  3. Make the flour coating: In a large bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Slowly add the cold water and mix well with a fork. Start with about 1.5 cups and add more if needed. Break up any clumps of flour so that the mixture is smooth. What you want to get is a thick and moist flour mixture that will cling to the chicken.Please see reference photo on the post
  4. Heat a large frying pan or Dutch oven. Fill the pan or Dutch oven with oil about 1-in deep. Heat the oil to 350-375 degrees F.
  5. Gently remove the chicken from the marinade and let the excess drip off. Dip the chicken in to the wet flour mixture. Allow excess to drip off and place the chicken in the hot oil.
  6. Cooking in small batches, fry the chicken on both sides till crispy and cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Don't crowd the chicken.
  7. Garnish with minced cilantro (optional). Serve warm with hot sauce and/or rice.
Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

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Recipe Note for Salt: All recipes containing salt are based on kosher or sea salt amounts, not table salt. If using table salt, reduce the amount used to taste.

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Jesus My LORD

    Just made this chicken today and it was A MAY ZING! My family loved it. iIt was super tasty and if u keep the flour mixture cold enough, the outside batter of the chicken is like Tempura, which i love. Thx for a Wonderful recipe!

  2. Joanna

    LOVED this recipe! I roasted half (350 for 45 min) and fried the other half (finished with a Panko coating per my husbands request) after marinating for 24 hours. It was AMAZING!!! This is definitely going into our weekly rotation! So easy and SO delicious!! Thanks so much for sharing – I rarely make chicken (my mom doesn’t like it so we never ate it growing up) so I never know what to do with it, so this is a wonderful recipe to have!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Joanna- thanks for the comment and so glad it worked both ways for you!

  3. projekdorcas

    Diane, your yummy fried chicken must be very tempting! They are also similar to my Malaysian-chinese style recipe. One of my favorite and my family’s too. We like using fish sauce to marinate.

  4. Sheryl

    Your story is what makes this recipe that much more to be treasured. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  5. Denver Photographer

    O man that looks fantastic! I love fried chicken, that was one of the only things my father could cook.

  6. FoodFlav

    I Think this will be better than KFC, If I follow the Recipe and Ingredients as given above,
    Can’t wait to make this Vietnam Fried Chicken This Weekend.

  7. Purvi

    Hi, I am from India and KFC chicken is a big thing here.. i liked the marinade used in your recipe will definitely give it a try…we make the crispy coating using eggs and cornflakes.. but sometimes the crispy layer falls apart with the meat…

  8. Abbe@This is How I Cook

    I am so liking this. Our family loved fried chicken too, and it was purchased similarly to your family’s. But instead of coleslaw, I needed potato salad and DAD’s rootbeer!

  9. Angie | Big Bear's Wife

    I need to work on perfecting my fried chicken! Vietnamese Fried Chicken looks like the perfect recipe to practice with! While I love the drive thru fried chicken, I’d much rather make it at home!

  10. Da Ly

    I’m so ashamed you know more about Vietnamese cuisine than I do (and I’m Vietnamese) :))
    Thank you for the recipe. I’m gonna trying it sometime.

  11. Sarah

    I made this chicken for dinner tonight. It was very moist and tasty. The flavor was excellent. I did have to add extra flour to the batter because it was so thin that it ran right off the chicken. Next time I will cut the water in half and add the additional cup slowly to make a thicker batter.

  12. Jill

    Do you use vegetable oil or peanut oil for frying? Thanks!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      We usually like to use grapeseed oil, but will use vegetable or peanut oil if we have it on hand too.

  13. Bec

    OH THIS LOOKS AWESOME. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! I’m absolutely going to try this out :)

  14. Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog

    WOW-looks so delicious, definitely want to try this out!

  15. JulieD

    Add to the list, spaghetti, hot dogs and fries! I had the same cravings and my little brother was obsessed with TMNT! Ha

    I’m making this soon…I mean soon and don’t tell Curtis there’s fish sauce in this recipe! :)

  16. todd wagner

    Always on the lookout for new fried chicken recipes – really digging the fish sauce!!

  17. Sian

    Aw – I feel alternating waves of warm fuzzies and drooling hunger. What a great memory (and recipe). It makes me wish I could live my childhood over again and not be such a little snot about eating.

  18. Farah @ The Cooking Jar

    My teenage hunger cravings were mostly for lasagna because I adored Garfield. Love hearing stories like these! And since we couldn’t afford a whole bucket of KFC chicken back then, one of the first things I did when I had my own household was buy a bucket for myself. A little overkill for tiny old me, but hey, one thing off the bucket list (pun unintended).

  19. Sidwich

    Bahahaha. So true. My younger brother was also obsessed with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles AND Fried Chicken (and pizza, and hamburgers… but really, mostly KFC fried chicken). He didn’t get into eating Chinese food into college, and my grandmother was so happy he was eating Chinese food at all that she didn’t care that it was off the back of a truck.

    His palate has expanded quite a bit since then.

  20. Angela

    I never know what type or brand of fish sauce to buy. Can you recommend one?

    1. Karen


  21. Alice // Hip Foodie Mom

    I love everything about this Vietnamese fried chicken!!! homemade fried chicken is the best! thanks for sharing, Diane!

  22. Linh Kieu

    I love making Vietnamese fried chicken! I sometimes add anchovy paste and homemade hot sauce to the marinades. Thanks for sharing!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Linh Kieu- I’ll often add my homemade hot sauce too, but the anchovy paste sounds intriguing. Thanks for the idea!

  23. Mary @ The Kitchen Paper

    Ooh this sounds amazing! After 3 months in Vietnam, I’m on an all-things-Vietnamese food kick — these will have to be tried!! Thanks, Diane!

  24. Pang@circahappy

    Thank you to your parents for this recipe. I will definitely like this one better than KFC.

  25. Nguyet @ Taming of the Spoon

    Your story of growing up craving American fried chicken while Mom and Dad always cooked fresh Vietnamese dishes brought back so many childhood memories for me. How my sisters and I loved the evenings when Dad brought home a bucket of KFC! Thank you for sharing this.

  26. jenn @ beyond the stoop

    my Vietnamese mother in law JUST made some TO DIE FOR fried chicken, and she didn’t use flour at all. only corn starch. talk about crispy goodness!! the marinade was very similar to yours, and she also did an additional pan-fry after the deep fry to get all the good “secret” flavors on the outside 😛

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